Yet another Texas terminal is preparing to export oil, even as the pandemic continues to hammer global demand for U.S. crude. Buckeye Partners LP expects to start loading ships with oil for export in the second half of July, after receiving crude at its South Texas Gateway terminal in the Port of Corpus Christi about a month earlier than planned.

The projects come at a tough time for the oil industry, which has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. As the virus wreaks havoc on global markets, American oil exports have tumbled from a record high of 3.7 million barrels a day in February to around 3 million barrels in April. Shipments were around 2.4 million barrels a day during the first week of June.

Exports Decline

Covid-19 has dented demand for American crude

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The launch of the Buckeye and Pin Oak terminals at a time like this signals that exporters believe demand will eventually recover, said Pin Oak Chief Executive Corey Leonard. While both projects were under development years before the current health emergency — with shippers, contracts and finance already lined up — they could have deferred their commission by a month or two if market conditions called for it. Instead, they’re pushing ahead.